Ivory bull-leaper figurine, part of a larger composition
Length: 28.7 cm.
Late Bronze Age. Neopalatial period, Late Minoan ΙI period.:
1600 - 1500 BC:
Exhibition thematic unit:
Late Bronze Age - Neopalatial period (1700-1450 BC). Private and public life. Bread and circuses
Athletes and Acrobats. Bull-leaping
Ivory figurine of a man executing an acrobatic leap in the air. It is part of the only three-dimensional depiction of bull-leaping from the palace of Knossos known to date. It was found together with at pieces of least two other ivory figurines and a faience bull’s head. The composition obviously depicts the moment when the athlete leaps over the bull, a scene familiar from Minoan frescoes and seals. The three-dimensional snapshot of the athlete’s movement is captured in a truly masterly way. As in the other figurines of the composition, details such as the leg muscles and the fingernails are highlighted. The bull-leaper figurine does not preserve any traces of a support, so the excavator suggested that it may have been suspended over the back of the bull using wires. The examination of the group under the microscope showed that the figures preserve traces of red paint, meaning that some features were painted on. They also had long hair made of copper gilt wires attached to the head, while thin pieces of gold foil found together with the statuettes may have been part of their clothing. Similar skilfully made figurines have also been found at Archanes and Palaikastro.
Dimopoulou-Rethemiotaki, Ν. Το Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Ηρακλείου, Athens, 2005, 329-330, 337. Evans, A.J. The Palace of Minos: A Comparative Account of the Successive Stages of the Early Cretan Civilization as Illustrated by the Discoveries at Knossos. Volume IΙΙ. New York, 1930, 428-435. Hemingway, S. "The Place of the Palaikastro Kouros in Minoan Bone and Ivory Sculpture." In J. A. MacGillivray, J. M. Driessen and L. H. Sackett (eds), The Palaikastro Kouros. A Minoan Chryselephantine Statuette and its Aegean Bronze Age Context. British School at Athens Studies 6. London, 2000, 113-122.